Monday, September 28, 2009

To write or not to write...about the past?

I've stated before that I knew as a child that I wanted to be a writer! It was not by choice, necessarily, but part of me- I have to write. I tried my hand at other things: working retail, thought of becoming a police woman, studying to become a juvenile probation officer, working in schools and then working as a migrant educator. With each position or journey I found something to write about and encouraged others around me, adults and children alike, to find the story within them to put down on paper. I always wanted to write and to inspire everyone I met.

The art of storytelling has always been my passion. I love to hear, read, write, or think of a great story. When I hear music I always picture a scene or create an entire premise for a novel centered around that particular song.

It is frustrating to invest my time in watching a movie that appears to be good and then, it just ends! We, writers, know what I am talking about. We've thought about how we would've ended it had it been our story up there on the silver screen.

Well, I am writing this post after having to deal with some troubles from my past; troubles as in people, as in some that I had once trusted and loved. I grew up accepting some extreme criticism and swallowed some incredible lies by people I wanted to love me as much as I loved them. I was forced to because I was a child and they were the adults. I was the next generation and NOT their equal! I grew up learning to hide my pain for the sake of not making anyone uncomfortable and acknowledging that anything could be wrong. I saw many people in my Latina life eat away their feelings as a means to cope. As I grew older I recognized the ones who consoled themselves with alcohol and drugs, amongst other addictions.

About five years ago, I made a tremendous break from the certain people who had succeeded in diminishing my soul since childhood. I saw that it was beginning to happen to my eldest child. I knew in my heart that I couldn’t call myself a good mommy if I allowed her spirit to break as my mine had. I prayed for answers for so many decades and finally, a painful, but poignant opportunity came and I knew it was now or never!

Shortly after that break, I saw some extended family who asked how I endured the grief all those years. This was the first time any of my pain had been acknowledged by anyone outside of my own head! I didn't know what to say, but did what I do a lot when I reflect upon it and cried my eyes out. Maybe I took it to be the good daughter and not make any waves for my parents. I saw my mom eat away her pain and I felt that I should do the same. I remember being in third grade and knowing that what was happening was not normal or right, but I was told to try MY best to ignore it. I did try, but now, as a wife, mom, and adult I realized that my mind tried to ignore it, but my heart recorded every detail of each wrong and replays it for me whenever I feel most vulnerable!

To escape my pain, I'd lie on my bed or bedroom floor staring at the ceiling while I created stories. I decided early on that one day I'd get back at the evil people by making them the villains in my stories. Sometimes, if I was especially hurt, they wouldn't have a chance to redeem themselves and I'd make their painful inflictions on me very obvious in my stories. I grew up believing, one day I'll break away and write it all out! In my mind I held a fantasy- probably hope- that they'd read my story, identify their character and either apologize and make up for the pain they inflicted, or the other people around them would realize how bad of a person they really were/are! As I grew up and started my own family, I still struggled with these ideas. I wanted to write it out, but when I kept a personal journal on this stuff it was exhausting enough to write it on a few pages, let alone an entire story about the pain.

Now, I appreciate all that I have gone through for it has made me the stronger, wiser woman that I am today. I think that I have a deeper appreciation for children because of what I endured throughout my youth. Sadly, because of the example that was set for me to ignore the pain I ended up struggling with a few relationships as I entered young adulthood. I picked friends and mates who did not have the best intentions in their hearts for me. I wanted to be loved so much that I stayed in these destructive relationships to try to prove that I could conquer the bad…finally! I had to learn to let go of them and release me so that I could finally grow and love myself.

As I embark on this new adventure in my life of finally seeking my passion of turning my writing into a career, I had a major stumbling block last week where the evil-doers of my past tried to ruffle my feathers again. Now, instead of lying on my bed and creating a story to get back at them, I became paralyzed and my creative flow started to cease because I allowed all of those old, destructive things to occupy my mind once again!

I have a spouse who stands by my side and urges me to continue with my writing! I have a wonderful friend and well, I guess, writing colleague, mentor, cheerleader whom I shared some of the details of last week's hurdles with. As it turned out, she, too, needed to vent about her week which really got me thinking.

We are creative people trying to make a living using our passion to entertain, educate, and inspire others. Whether we are song-writers, literary writers, painters, artists, comedians, etc. we have the chance to get back at those who hurt us through our work! People always tell me to write about my life and what I have endured! Get it out and maybe I can help another child or another woman who suffers from the crippling lack of self-confidence! Should I? I mean really, would you? Do you share the ugly truth?

We've all heard the songs written by the scorned lover. Yeah, Taylor Swift, I think, has written a few. They aren't as harsh as some others I can recall, such as "I don't want you back!" by Eamon. To that his ex, Frankee, responded with "F.U.R.B."!

I have tried hard to focus on a positive place in my life for my family and for me. I let go of the idea of seeking revenge disguised as literature a few years ago. How do song writers do it? I used to worry about being sued, but I have read, read, and read some more on the subject. I know about changing names and even the details of the event that occurred. My worry now is about how I will feel. I hear all the time to write what you know and to write from the heart. I always do that and sometimes that's why I feel so exposed. At the same time, I believe that's why I have the ability to touch the soul within others. They see that my words are real and they can relate.

As I write this post, I struggle with the idea of hitting the delete button, but my heart tugs at me to go forward and share for the mere fact that maybe one other person might need to read this today or can share some insight with me. I struggle with writing about my painful past because I don't want to hurt anyone, regardless of the pain that was forced upon me. I want to believe that my life has a purpose and my goal is to live my best life and inspire others. So, here I am at a crossroads. Do I take the route to my other fiction stories or do I tap into the "real" and uncover my raw emotions? Maybe that story could inspire someone, right?

Do artists struggle to paint something painful from their life knowing that it might upset someone else? Do they sometimes want to take the face of an enemy and paint it as an evil witch- hat, warts, and all? If you do, does it release the pain and allow you to move on? I am seeking peace and maybe I just worry too much!

I am just thankful for those of you who've contacted me recently to encourage me to continue with my writing. Right now, it is harder, but more meaningful than I could have imagined! Maybe I will dig deep and write it out. Maybe I will have the strength to share my story one day and still find a way to have peace and love myself in the process!

I have come to learn that artists are a sensitive bunch, but I think it's because we have heightened senses in order to bring to life the passion we have bursting within us!  I wish all of you, creative creatures, much peace with yourselves and confidence in your work!

Wishing you all dreams to fulfill and the inspiration needed to do so!

~the sol within~

Give it a listen! The songs that inspired this post:
~The Greatest by Jimmy Eat World
~How to Save a Life by the Fray
~I Didn't Know My Own Strength by Whitney Houston
~Everything’s Gonna Be Alright by Father MC

Monday, September 14, 2009

And...she's off!

Well, it seems that back to school has come and gone and with it, my baby! Yes, my mini-me has flown away from my side for three and a half hours a day! WAH! I had every intention of keeping this incredible little creature by my side for one more year, continuing to teach, shape, and nurture this little soul all myself. I began to see signs that the kiddo needed to explore outside of our home, make friends, and become a solo act for, at least, a moment in her day!

With the usual mother's guilt, compounded by the Latina guilt, I decided to look for a school that would properly suit the dreams of this star-to-be. Before, you go all "Whatever" on me thinking that I'm just another bragging mama, let me explain that my child actually BELIEVES that she is indeed famous! She has told me many times that she has fans and just when I try to explain the concept of being conceited and the benefits of having confidence coupled with some modesty, a complete stranger will approach us and compliment us on my little one's hair, smile, song she is undoubtedly belting out, or the beautiful outfit she is wearing that she picked out herself. "See, Mami," she explains with so much conviction, "I told you I have fans!"

The moment I told her that she was going to school, she was beyond thrilled! I, on the other hand, was a wreck! Don't go, mi'ja! Wah! I put on that "big girl" face that all mamis know. The one where I cry on the inside, but look happy on the outside. That face that can be pulled off for a little while, but if one tries to force it for too long, then one ends up looking distorted and...well, scary! Don't attempt the fake smile while wearing red lipstick because your kids will never want to see you smile again! Now, before you all go running to the mirror to check it out, just trust me!

My baby bounced off the walls that day and could hardly wait for the first day of school. The more she cheered, the more my heart broke. Don't get me wrong, I was happy for her, but this was hard. Maybe because this is my last baby. Maybe because I nearly lost my life when she was only weeks old. I remember fighting for my life in the hospital and thinking, "God, let me make it through because I need to know this baby!" I fought harder than I ever have for anything. I had my children on my mind the entire time. I lost months with my baby and still cry over that, but I'm here! Crazy as it sounds, I even considered home-schooling!
As I went about my day holding back my desire to sob, my baby went around singing, "I'm going to school and I'm going to make friends, and no parents can be there, just kids! YAY!" Ouch! Then, my husband, my partner, the baby-daddy came home and I figured we could hug and cry together! Instead, I heard, "I'm home! Where's my school girl?" Huh?! Then, he pulled out a present for my baby! A backpack! That's right, he was getting her ready to go...leave me, y'all!

As he flashed his pearly whites at me and leaned in for a kiss, I asked, "Oh, do you want a suitcase so you can get her packed for college already?!"
The week flew by and soon it was the night before the first day of school. I cried as I sat at the computer and my husband kept chuckling and telling me to stop. I couldn't, no matter how hard I tried. I turned on my music library and the first song that played as my baby ran out into the living room to say goodnight, was "Time to Say Goodbye" by Andrea Bocelli. My husband fell to the floor laughing. He said he would never forget that moment for the rest of his life. I didn't see the humor and I cried harder- more for the fact that he was laughing at me! He always says that I should have my own theme music wherever I go, those of you who've read my other posts know how much music inspires me, but this time it was a total fluke! He laughed throughout the night about that and eventually I admitted to seeing the humor and laughed through my tears.

My kiddo makes the whole family laugh uncontrollably at times. She is my clone, so she can be stubborn, but has a heart filled with so much compassion for others, and a wicked sense of humor! She was truly born that way. When she was just about seven months old she had been lying on a blanket on the floor and was watching all of us shuffle around our home. My husband and I were making dinner as we continued to peek on her. We noticed she had stopped moving for a moment and wondered if she had fallen asleep. My husband asked if she did as I got close to check on her. "I'm not sure if she fell asleep, but that would be awfully quick she was just awake," I said as I approached her.

"She's asleep?" our oldest chimed in. "She was just awake two seconds ago because I was watching her try to stick her foot in her mouth again!"

My husband came out of the kitchen as infant-parent panic started to appear on my face and in my voice. I knelt down as we continued to wonder if she really fell asleep that fast! I gently placed my hand on her chest and then I listened for her breathing. Now the whole family had crowded around this chubby baby on the blanket and just as we stated, "She's fine, she just fell asleep..." My baby with the wicked sense of humor, started to smile and then whipped her head around with eyes popped wide-open and let out a massive belly laugh as she clapped her stubby baby hands! "You tricked us!" we all shouted. We were all a bit stunned at the idea of a baby playing such a trick on us, but she did...and hasn't stopped since! I was oh, so proud, but a little creeped out, to be totally honest. That meant this baby understood more than I thought and I started to wonder if she could read my thoughts.

In fact, yesterday after school we were talking about her day and I wanted to make sure that she was quiet during "show & tell". I revealed to her that when I am working on the computer I can log into her classroom and see what is going on. Of course, her eyes grew bigger as she asked, "Can you hear us too?" Oh, no you didn't just try to one up me, I thought to myself. "Yes, I can," I stated matter of factly.

"Perfect!" she exclaimed. "Then, I won't have to tell you about my day anymore because you'll already know and that'll save me time in my day!"
I still haven't responded to that. I used to be so good at that- if anyone ever told me anything, especially if it was a challenge, I'd always have a quick comeback! I was the comeback queen! My husband tells me that I have met my match and I love it!

She's been in school for three weeks and I worry about all the issues: bullying- don't want to see my kiddos be victims and don't want to see them bully, either; talking too much and annoying the teacher; becoming an outcast and start hating school; not being able to handle or want to do the work. I finally asked the teacher last week how it had been going and was so pleasantly surprised. Later after school, a new girl's mom approached me to let me know that my child had taken the time that morning to meet and welcome her daughter. She informed me that at her daughter's other preschool cliques were already starting to form. We discussed how hard it is to let go of our babies because we have kept them in our care for so long and know that one day their happiness will be shattered, even if for a moment, when they finally enter that great big world they are just so eager to be a part of.

She hasn't spoken much about fans since beginning school and talks about being everyone's friend! She helps the smaller ones reach the soap when they wash their hands. She loves her teachers. I decided to ask her about fans and she explained that fans are just friends. They like you because they like what you do and how you treat everybody. She went on to explain that if she was mean she wouldn't have friends, and then no one would care to be a fan, and then, even more importantly, kids would not want to come to her birthday party. She is thinking far ahead, we haven't even planned this yet, but I got what she was saying.

She asks me everyday if I have a new fan (follower) on my blog. She dances and claps for me when I get a new one. Today she cheered for me for the fifth time! Hooray! Thanks, readers! She tells me that I will have fans if I write, like my own little fortune-teller. I tell her that having fans is not what makes the person great, but the work that they do. (Fearing that she may seek fame and fans like Paris Hilton, etc.)

She always wants to know what I'm writing and will ask is this a funny story, sad story, or happy story with love? I let her know what I'm writing at the time and she excitedly states, "I'm going to be a writer, like you, mami!" Ahhh, it makes me happy. "But, I'm gonna write funny stories," she continues as she jumps off of my lap with her lunchbox on her head. "I am going to make people laugh all the time. I love that," she giggles.

"Just don't do it while the teacher is talking!" I shout back! Ay, ay, ay...motherhood! But, hey, I told you my familia was crazy and that's what keeps my writing going!

Take a lesson from my mini-me and let someone know that you are a fan of their work. It'll make all the difference. Also, make someone laugh. There is always someone out there in need of a good laugh or a little bit of encouragement!

Wishing you all dreams to fulfill and the inspiration needed to do so!

~the sol within~

Give it a listen: The music that inspired this post...
~Time to Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli
~Sweet Child o' Mine by Guns 'n' Roses
~Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World by Harold Arlen, George Weiss, Bob Thiele
~Landslide by Stevie Nicks